05/11/2006 11:00PM

Beware of longshots trained by Matthews

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Owner-trainer Pat Matthews, who usually competes at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, will spend the summer at Fort Erie.

Last Monday, Matthews sent out his first starter of the meet, C'Em Run. The filly, at odds of 16-1, finished third after leading most of the way.

"This filly only worked once," said Matthews. "If she had had another, she would have won the race."

Sunday, Matthews, 57, will start the other half of his outfit, Stage Door Penny, in an optional claimer for maidens.

"I'm kind of cutting back," he said. "My knees are bad. But I might buy some more."

Matthews hasn't worked in this region since 2003. For three consecutive years prior to that he had come east at the end of the Assiniboia meet with a couple of runners. And, he made his presence felt each time.

In the fall of 2001, at the Fort, Matthews popped with By Bird, who paid $44.80. The next year he scored with Copper Kettle via a ship-in to Woodbine. The payoff was $17.40.

In 2003, the Matthews-trained Jaspar Park won on the Fort's turf and paid $43.60.

King returns to favorite track

Jockey Rob King Jr. has moved his tack from Woodbine to the Fort and will stay till the end of the meet.

"I love Fort Erie," said King. "I won five races here last summer. I want to have fun and win races. Scott Lane is my new agent."

After a 10-year absence from riding to train horses, King returned to ride at Woodbine last year. He said he was tired of being a trainer.

King captured back-to-back Sovereign Awards as Canada's top apprentice in 1982 and 1983. Heading into 2006, King had scored 1,116 wins and had purse earnings of more than $16 million.

King won with his first ride at the meet, aboard Getmovinshoes last Sunday. King's second win came the next day with Dance Slightly ($31.80).

On Sunday, King's 42nd birthday, he has been named on two runners.

Wills regroups with young horses

With 17 wins, Dan Wills finished eighth in the trainer standings here last year.

Although Wills will be missing a couple of his former stars, he is optimistic about 2006.

He lost, by a claim, Toneless, a four-time winner last year. Gone to the breeding shed is the 10-year-old mare Orientalspringhope, who will be bred to One Way Love.

Orientalspringhope retired with nine wins and earnings of slightly more than $300,000. Her last win was the Golden Horseshoe Cup in August.

"I'm okay," said Wills, who has 10 maidens in his barn. "I've got a lot to look forward to. I've got a bunch of maidens, mostly 3-year-olds. And I've got a horse from Toronto with back-class called Chemistry Class, who is a prospect for the Cup races."

Wills's first starter, the maiden Trick Lover, won on opening day, April 29. Wills will saddle a maiden, Gone for Canada, on Sunday's card.